City finishes pile driving
By Jack Kintner
“We didn’t run into anything unusual except the occasional old beer bottle,” said Joe Peterson general superintendent for McDowell Northwest Piling after installing over 100 pilings to support Blaine’s new boardwalk plazas at the west ends of G and H streets.
“All we found was a lot of mud and clay,” said Peterson. He and his crew, in addition to two other subcontractors, began working just after New Year’s, putting 46 piles under the H Street end of the boardwalk and 65 under the north end off G Street. “The north (G Street) end is a little bigger,” McDowell explained.
The boardwalk design calls for a performance pavilion at that location, one that’s also of historical significane for Blaine. In 1871 the Cain brothers bought a tract of land running from the international border to what is now H Street and from the street along the bluff, then called Washington street and now Peace Portal Drive, to 6th Street. James Cain and others platted the area in 1884 for Blaine’s official incorporation.
Cain reserved a city block for himself on the bluff in the southwest corner of the plat. The new boardwalk will eventually connect the G and H Street plazas by running along the western edge of what was once James Cain’s personal residence, a large and inviting house surrounded by a spacious and productive apple orchard.
Rather than driving the piles into the ground, the method Peterson employed molds the piling in place by injecting a thin mixture of sand and cement through a hollow tube that runs down the center of the large, 70-foot auger. As the auger is withdrawn, the hole is filled with the mixture and is further reinforced with steel reinforcing rods, or re-bar, once the auger is removed.
The individual piles go down as far as is necessary to provide support, Peterson said, which is not necessarily to a harder layer beneath the clay and mud on the surface. “Once we have a certain amount of resistance indicating so many pounds of support, that’s it,” he said.